If you’re the type of person who enjoys few things more than watching cascades of water plummeting over cliffs, it is about time you took a trip down the Highway of Waterfalls.
Otherwise known as Highwy 138 and the North Umpqua River Scenic Byway, the Highway of Waterfalls stretches east from Roseburg past Diamond and Crater lakes and covers some of the most beautiful terrain in America. Along the way, you’ll find 10 waterfalls, most within a short walk or drive from the highway.
Travel time from the first waterfall to the last is only an hour or so, but you’ll need much more time than that to get back to the falls, enjoy the scenery, eat your picnic and commune with nature. So plan to make a day of it.
On your way upriver, stop in Glide for provisions and to take in another whitewater wonder. At the entrance to town, just off the highway, pull into the Colliding Rivers Viewpoint, where you can witness the North Umpqua and Little River converging almost head-on.
The chaotic churn will serve as the perfect appetizer for the eye-feast that lies ahead.
On your trip, the best-known of the falls you will encounter is Toketee Falls, about 58 miles east of Roseburg. Named for Chinook Jargon that means “pretty” or “graceful”, Toketee drops about 120 feet in two tiers. It flows from the North Umpqua River, so it avoids seasonal fluctuations, making it a popular year-round destination for waterfall enthusiasts.
It is difficult to impossible to get down to the falls, but a viewing platform provides a spectacular vantage point.
While it is the most famous of the area’s waterfalls, Toketee isn’t the first stop on an eastbound tour up Highway 138. You’ll first encounter Deadline Falls, a short but powerful fall where you might be able to see steelhead or salmon jumping en route to or from the Pacific Ocean.
Next up is Susan Creek Falls, a 50-foot fan-type waterfall with an easy access trail, then Fall Creek Falls, a two-tiered fall that drops a total of 85 feet and is a little more difficult to reach.
Just six miles away, Steamboat Falls is about five miles off the highway, but features an easy access trail. From May through October, steelhead are often seen attempting to jump to the top of the 25-foot fall.
Toketee comes next, then it’s just two miles to Watson Falls, the highest waterfall in southwest Oregon and third-highest in Oregon. Pull off Hwy 138 and into the parking lot, and you’ll catch a glimpse of the top of the elegant 272-foot fall. A bridge over Watson Creek offers excellent viewing.
Whitehorse Falls is a 15-foot punch-bowl-type fall, while Clearwater Falls drops 30 feet into a pool and is a short walk from Clearwater Falls campground.
Next, Warm Springs Falls is a block-type fall that drops 70 feet into the pool below. The trail ends above the falls, providing a spectacular viewpoint.
Your final stop is Lemolo Falls, a powerful 165-foot fall. Lemolo is another Chinook Jargon word meaning “wild” or “untamed.” Enough said.
There are all sorts of solid reasons to visit Douglas County during your stay in Oregon. And if you are into waterfalls, we just gave you 10 wet ones.
While we focused on the waterfalls along the North Umpqua River, there are more than 80 waterfalls throughout Douglas County. Check out the following sources to discover other fantastic falls in the area.